« PreviousContinue »
He pafs'd the Moon and Planets, and did fright
All the Worlds there, which at this Meteor gaz'd,
And their Aftrologers amaz'd
With th' unexampled Sight.
But where he stopt will ne'er be known,
Till Phoenix Nature, aged grown,
To'a better Being do afpire,
And mount her felf, like him, t' Eternity in Fire.
On Exodus III. 14. I AM THAT I AM.
An O D E.
By Mr. PRIOR.
MAN! Foolish Man!
Scarce know'st thou how thy felf began; Scarce haft thou Thought enough to prove thou art; Yet, fteel'd with ftudy'd Boldness, thou dar'ft try To fend thy doubting Reafon's dazzled Eye Through the mysterious Gulph of vaft Immenfity. Much thou canft there difcern, much thence impart. Vain Wretch! fupprefs thy knowing Pride; Mortify thy learned Luft:
Vain are thy Thoughts, while thou thy felf art Duft.
Let Wit her Sails, her Oars let Wisdom lend;
The Helm let politick Experience guide:
Yet ceafe to hope thy fhort-liv'd Bark fhall ride
Down fpreading Fate's unnavigable Tide.
What, tho' till it farther tend?
Still 'tis farther from its End;
And in the Bofom of that boundlefs Sea,
Still finds its Error lengthen with its Way.
With daring Pride, and infolent Delight,
Your Doubts refolv'd you boaft, your Labours crown'd
And, "ETPHEKA your God, forfooth, is found
Incomprehenfible and Infinite.
But is he therefore found? Vain Searcher! no:
Let your imperfect Definition fhow,
That nothing you, the weak Definer, know.
Say, why fhould the collected Main
It felf within it felf contain?
Why to its Caverns fhou'd it fometimes creep,
And with delighted Silence fleep
On the lov'd Bofom of its Parent Deep?
Why fhou'd its num'rous Waters stay
In comely Difcipline, and fair Array,
"Till Winds and Tides exert their high Command?
Then, prompt and ready to obey,
Why do the rifing Surges fpread
Their op'ning Ranks o'er Earth's fubmiffive Head,
Marching thro' diff'rent Paths to diff'rent Lands?
Why does the conftant Sun
With meafur'd Steps his radiant Journeys run?
Why does he order the diurnal Hours,
To leave Earth's other Part, and rife in ours?
Why does he wake the correfpondent Moon,
And fill her willing Lamp with liquid Light,
Commanding her with delegated Pow'rs
To beautify the World, and bless the Night?
Why does each animated Star
Love the juft Limits of its proper Sphere ?
Why does each confenting Sign
With prudent Harmony combine
In turns to move, and fubfequent appear,
To gird the Globe, and regulate the Year?
Man does with dang'rous Curiofity
Thefe unfathom'd Wonders try:
With fanfy'd Rules and arbitrary Laws
Matter and Motion he reftrains;
And ftudy'd Lines and fictious Circles draws:
Then, with imagin'd Sovereignty,
Lord of his new HYPOTHESIS he reigns.
He reigns: How long? till fome Ufurper rife;
And he too, mighty thoughtful, mighty wife,
Studies new Lines, and other Circles feigns.
From this laft Toil again what Knowledge flows?
Juft as much, perhaps, as fhows
That all his Predeceffor's Rules
Were empty Cant, all JARGON of the Schools,
That he on t'other's Ruin rears his Throne ;
And fhows his Friend's Miftake, and thence confirms his own.
On Earth, in Air, amidst the Seas and Skies,
Mountainous Heaps of Wonders rise;
Whofe tow'ring Strength will ne'er fubmit
To Reafon's Batteries, or the Mines of Wit:
Yet ftill enquiring, ftill mistaking Man,
Each Hour repuls'd, each Hour dares onward prefs;
And levelling at GOD, his wandring Guefs,
(That feeble Engine of his reasoning War,
Which guides his Doubts, and combats his Defpair)
Laws to his Maker the learn'd Wretch can give:
Can bound that Nature, and prescribe that Will,
Whofe pregnant WORD did either Ocean fill;
Can tell us whence all BEINGS are, and how they move, and
Thro' either Ocean, foolish Man!
That pregnant Word fent forth again,
Might to a World extend each ATOM there;
For every Drop call forth a Sea, a Heav'n for every Star.
Let cunning Earth her fruitful Wonders hide;
And only lift thy ftaggering Reafon up
To trembling CALVARY'S aftonifh'd Top;
Then mock thy Knowledge, and confound thy Pride,
Explaining how Perfection fuffer'd Pain,
Almighty languifh'd, and Eternal dy'd:
How by her Patient Victor Death was flain;
And Earth prophan'd, yet blefs'd with Deicide.
Then down with all thy boafted Volumes, down;
Only referve the Sacred One;
Low, reverently low,
Make thy ftubborn Knowledge bow; Weep out thy Reafon's and thy Body's Eyes; Deject thy felf, that Thou may'ft rife; To look to Heav'n, be blind to all below.
Then Faith, for Reafon's glimmering Light, shall give
Her immortal Perspective;
And Grace's Prefence Nature's Lofs retrieve:
Then thy enliven'd Soul fhall fee,
That all the Volumes of Philofophy,
With all their Comments, never cou'd invent
So politick an Inftrument,
To reach the Heav'n of Heav'ns, the high Abode,
Where MOSEs places his mysterious God,
As was that Ladder which old JACOB rear'd,
When Light Divine had human Darkness clear'd;
And his enlarg'd Ideas found the Road,
Which Faith had dictated, and Angels trod.
A Paraphrafe on the XIIth Chapter of the
Firft Epiftle to the CORINTHIANS.
By the fame.
ID fweeter Sounds adorn my flowing Tongue
Than ever Man pronounc'd, or Angel sung;
Had I all Knowledge, human and divine,
That Thought can reach, or Science can define;
And had I Pow'r to give that Knowledge Birth,
In all the Speeches of the babbling Earth:
Did Shadrach's Zeal my glowing Breast inspire,
To weary Tortures, and rejoice in Fire;
Or had I Faith like that which Ifrael faw,
When Mofes gave them Miracles and Law:
Yet, gracious CHARITY, indulgent Gueft,
Were not thy Pow'r exerted in my Breaft;
Thofe Speeches would fend up unheeded Pray'r,
That Scorn of Life would be but wild Defpair:
A Timbal's Sound were better than my Voice;
My Faith were Form, my Eloquence were Noife.
CHARITY, decent, modeft, eafy, kind,
Softens the high, and rears the abject Mind;
Knows with juft Reins and gentle hand to guide,
Betwixt vile Shame and arbitrary Pride.
Not foon provok'd, fhe eafily forgives;
And much fhe fuffers, as the much believes.
Soft Peace fhe brings wherever fhe arrives :
She builds our Quiet, as fhe forms our Lives;
Lays the rough Paths of peevish Nature even;
And opens in each Heart a little Heaven.
Each other Gift, which Go D on Man beftows,
Its proper Bounds and due Reflection knows ;
To one fixt Purpofe dedicates its Pow'r ;
And finishing its A&t, exifts no more.
Thus, in Obedience to what Heav'n decrees,
Knowledge fhall fail, and Prophecy fhall ceafe:
But lafting CHARITY's more ample Sway,
Nor bound by Time, nor fubject to Decay,
In happy Triumph fhall for ever live,
And endlefs Good diffufe, and endlefs Praise receive.
As thro' the Artift's intervening Glafs,
Our Eye obferves the diftant Planets pafs;
A little we difcover, but allow,
That more remains unfeen than Art can fhow:
So whilft our Mind its Knowledge wou'd improve,
(Its feeble Eye, intent on Things above)
High as we may, we lift our Reafon up,
By FAITH directed, and confirm'd by HOPE:
Yet are we able only to furvey
Dawnings of Beams, and Promifes of Day.
Heav'n's fuller Effluence mocks our dazzl'd Sight,
Too great its Swiftnefs, and too ftrong its Light.
But foon the mediate Clouds fhall be difpell'd:
The Sun fhall foon be Face to Face beheld,
In all his Robes, with all his Glory on,
Seated fublime on his meridian Throne.